Missile defence: mutually assured distrust?

Missile defence is not going to go away. But neither are the Russian objections to the NATO missile defence system. What are the obstacles - and how can they best be addressed?

Full video transcript

Missile defence:

mutually assured distrust?

In the relations

between NATO and Russia,

there’s one issue,

which casts its shadow

over nearly everything:

missile defence.

Russia has several problems

with the proposed new NATO system

and progress in resolving

these problems has ground to halt.

Missile defence is of course

a big elephant in the room.

On the one hand it’s obvious

that if there’s room for agreement

between NATO and Russia

on how to construct

this joined missile defence,

it could become a real game changer.

So what are the problems that

Russia sees with the NATO system?

The Russian side is very sceptical,

is very distrustful

and really focusing on guarantees

that first we have to discuss

and agree

some strategic guarantees,

which would really not allow

the US or NATO even theoretically

to become hostile towards Russia.

But NATO has made clear

that it wants Russia as a partner,

even offering cooperation

on the missile defence programme.

We do not consider

Russia an enemy.

We do not consider

Russia an adversary.

We consider Russia a partner.

Russia claims a joined

system of NATO and Russia

could benefit both sides

against a common threat.

NATO has offered to link

our two missile defence systems.

It would bring

our experts together on a 24/7 basis,

it would build

trust and transparency

and it would improve

protection for all of us,

in Russia and in Europe.

But Russia lays down

several conditions

before it would accept the system.

We do believe we are equally exposed

to modern threats and challenges,

but for that we need

certain security guarantees.

We need absolute clarity

about the final shape of the system.

Secondly, we do want

to have guarantees that the systems

on which

we are prepared to cooperate,

are in line

with existing threats and challenges

and that they are not designed

to meet other challenges.

And a third element,

which is also very important of course

is that this system

will not have the capacity

to intercept Russian nuclear assets.

NATO points out there are guarantees

between NATO and Russia not to

target aggression against each other.

The first document

that structured the cooperation

between NATO and Russia...

Already then in ’97 we declared

that we will

not use force against each other.

That really is

a strong political statement.

A strong political guarantee

if you wish.

So what does Russia have

to fear from the current system?

A capability that can

either destroy

or degrade the effectiveness

of offensive ballistic missiles is one,

which in principle poses a threat

to their entire architecture

of deterrence.

And the logical answer for them

is to nip any such effort in the bud.

They think in terms of possible use

of that capability against Russia,

simply disregarding all the political

change, fundamental change,

which has happened

since the end of the Cold War.

Russia points out

that Iran’s nuclear programme,

which could have justified the

protection that the system will afford,

is being dealt with

through international diplomacy.

Now we face a huge perspective

in sorting out the so-called

Iranian nuclear problem.

We do believe

there is no reason for Europe

to be engaged

in missile defence preparations

in line

with the previous scheduled plan.

NATO points out that the system is

not meant to guard against one nation

and that there are

around thirty nations who have

or are developing

ballistic missile capability.

Some analysts believe that Russia

could not agree to the system,

either in principle or in practice.

NATO does have to accept

that these Russian objections

to the missile defence

programme are not going away,

that more engagement,

more meetings, more persuasion

is not going to mellow any of this.

The Russians will not be content

until they either stop the programme

or gain co-management of it.

Part of the Russian resistance

against the missile defence

is caused by...

not by the military threat assessment,

but by the assessment

that the deployment

of important US-NATO installations

in Central Europe would bring...

in fact, would constitute a bridge

in tacit understanding about

the results of the end of the Cold War.

That will be kind

of crossing an invisible red line,

which the Russians

drew themselves.

Importantly, the need

for agreement is time-limited.

The clock is ticking

and elements of the system

are already being put in place.

Time is running out. And we know

that NATO is actively engaged

in building its own system

and new sites will be opened

quite soon in Romania,

in two years in Poland...

And of course Russia is

not the country that will agree

to follow the politics of fait accompli.

This is also one of the elements

we should take into account.

So far Russia has

rejected NATO’s proposal.

If we want to move forward,

we have no time to waste.

Now is not the time for excuses.

With both sides

agreeing that time is limited,

what happens

if no agreement is reached?

If no agreement is reached,

we will take the necessary measures,

both political and military-technical.

We will not allow strategic balance

to be disbalanced in fact.

But we do are interested

in having this balance

as a basis

for strategic stability in the future.

It will not be our choice,

but at this junction,

in this security environment,

we have to take all the necessary

steps that really protect our interests.

Missile defence:

mutually assured distrust?

In the relations

between NATO and Russia,

there’s one issue,

which casts its shadow

over nearly everything:

missile defence.

Russia has several problems

with the proposed new NATO system

and progress in resolving

these problems has ground to halt.

Missile defence is of course

a big elephant in the room.

On the one hand it’s obvious

that if there’s room for agreement

between NATO and Russia

on how to construct

this joined missile defence,

it could become a real game changer.

So what are the problems that

Russia sees with the NATO system?

The Russian side is very sceptical,

is very distrustful

and really focusing on guarantees

that first we have to discuss

and agree

some strategic guarantees,

which would really not allow

the US or NATO even theoretically

to become hostile towards Russia.

But NATO has made clear

that it wants Russia as a partner,

even offering cooperation

on the missile defence programme.

We do not consider

Russia an enemy.

We do not consider

Russia an adversary.

We consider Russia a partner.

Russia claims a joined

system of NATO and Russia

could benefit both sides

against a common threat.

NATO has offered to link

our two missile defence systems.

It would bring

our experts together on a 24/7 basis,

it would build

trust and transparency

and it would improve

protection for all of us,

in Russia and in Europe.

But Russia lays down

several conditions

before it would accept the system.

We do believe we are equally exposed

to modern threats and challenges,

but for that we need

certain security guarantees.

We need absolute clarity

about the final shape of the system.

Secondly, we do want

to have guarantees that the systems

on which

we are prepared to cooperate,

are in line

with existing threats and challenges

and that they are not designed

to meet other challenges.

And a third element,

which is also very important of course

is that this system

will not have the capacity

to intercept Russian nuclear assets.

NATO points out there are guarantees

between NATO and Russia not to

target aggression against each other.

The first document

that structured the cooperation

between NATO and Russia...

Already then in ’97 we declared

that we will

not use force against each other.

That really is

a strong political statement.

A strong political guarantee

if you wish.

So what does Russia have

to fear from the current system?

A capability that can

either destroy

or degrade the effectiveness

of offensive ballistic missiles is one,

which in principle poses a threat

to their entire architecture

of deterrence.

And the logical answer for them

is to nip any such effort in the bud.

They think in terms of possible use

of that capability against Russia,

simply disregarding all the political

change, fundamental change,

which has happened

since the end of the Cold War.

Russia points out

that Iran’s nuclear programme,

which could have justified the

protection that the system will afford,

is being dealt with

through international diplomacy.

Now we face a huge perspective

in sorting out the so-called

Iranian nuclear problem.

We do believe

there is no reason for Europe

to be engaged

in missile defence preparations

in line

with the previous scheduled plan.

NATO points out that the system is

not meant to guard against one nation

and that there are

around thirty nations who have

or are developing

ballistic missile capability.

Some analysts believe that Russia

could not agree to the system,

either in principle or in practice.

NATO does have to accept

that these Russian objections

to the missile defence

programme are not going away,

that more engagement,

more meetings, more persuasion

is not going to mellow any of this.

The Russians will not be content

until they either stop the programme

or gain co-management of it.

Part of the Russian resistance

against the missile defence

is caused by...

not by the military threat assessment,

but by the assessment

that the deployment

of important US-NATO installations

in Central Europe would bring...

in fact, would constitute a bridge

in tacit understanding about

the results of the end of the Cold War.

That will be kind

of crossing an invisible red line,

which the Russians

drew themselves.

Importantly, the need

for agreement is time-limited.

The clock is ticking

and elements of the system

are already being put in place.

Time is running out. And we know

that NATO is actively engaged

in building its own system

and new sites will be opened

quite soon in Romania,

in two years in Poland...

And of course Russia is

not the country that will agree

to follow the politics of fait accompli.

This is also one of the elements

we should take into account.

So far Russia has

rejected NATO’s proposal.

If we want to move forward,

we have no time to waste.

Now is not the time for excuses.

With both sides

agreeing that time is limited,

what happens

if no agreement is reached?

If no agreement is reached,

we will take the necessary measures,

both political and military-technical.

We will not allow strategic balance

to be disbalanced in fact.

But we do are interested

in having this balance

as a basis

for strategic stability in the future.

It will not be our choice,

but at this junction,

in this security environment,

we have to take all the necessary

steps that really protect our interests.

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